|Farmers can harvest 17 to 20 tonnes of lemongrass per hectare and earn some VND100 billion (US$4,700). — File Photo
TIEN GIANG (VNS)_Farmers in coastal communes of southern Tien Giang Province are earning more from growing lemongrass, which thrives on saline terrain, than from rice.
Nguyen Van Hai, head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Unit of Tien Giang Province's Tan Phu Dong District, said that currently the district had 500 hectares of lemongrass, more than any other area in the province.
Farmers can harvest 17 to 20 tonnes of lemongrass per hectare and earn some VND100 billion (US$4,700).
"This means farmers earn three times as much as they do when growing rice," Hai said.
Pham Van Hung, a farmer of Phu Thanh Commune of Tan Phu Dong District, who owns two hectares of lemongrass, said he earned much more from growing lemongrass than rice.
"Each year, I earn more than VND200 million (US$9,500) from growing lemongrass. I have been able to build a house and buy necessary stuff," he said.
Hung added that lemongrass was suitable for the soil of Tan Phu Dong District.
"In my experience, lemongrass can grow well on salty, dry land and encounters fewer diseases than other plants," he said.
Nguyen Van Sang, a farmer in Phu Dong Commune in the same district, said lemongrass adapted well to the dry season.
In Tan Phu Dong District, located on the East Sea, the dry season lasts five to six months. Agricultural production land is severely impacted by saline water and local residents struggle to find enough water for daily use, let alone for crops.
Luong Cong Phu, vice chairman of Phu Thanh Commune's People's Committee, said lemongrass was a "surprisingly" suitable plant for local farmers.
"We need the price of lemongrass to remain VND5,000 (US$0.2) per kilogram so many farmers in the commune can escape poverty," he said.
Head of the district's Agriculture and Rural Development Unit Nguyen Van Hai said the district's Farmers Association is co-ordinating with a company from HCM City to purchase lemongrass from farmers in the district. — VNS